The world is moving
towards tunability

The combination of tunable lasers and dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) allows datacom and telecom industries to expand their network capacity without increasing their existing fiber infrastructure. Furthermore, the miniaturization of coherent technology into pluggable transceiver modules has finally enabled the widespread implementation of IP over DWDM solutions. Self-tuning algorithms have also made DWDM solutions more widespread by simplifying their installation and maintenance. Hence, many application cases—metro transport, data center interconnects, and even future access networks—are moving towards coherent tunable pluggables.

Coherent transceiver solution light sources

An Exploding Market

The market for coherent tunable transceivers will explode in the coming years, with LightCounting estimating that annual sales will double by 2026. Telecom carriers and especially data center providers will drive the market demand, upgrading their optical networks with 400G, 600G, and 800G pluggable transceiver modules that will become the new industry standards.

More tunable lasers needed

This increase in transceiver demand also means that component and equipment vendors also need more tunable lasers to build such transceivers. However, through several recent acquisitions and mergers, the transceiver market is consolidating into fewer companies that will develop these high-performance tunable lasers, modulators, and receivers internally. This situation reduces the laser supply on the market and makes it harder for independent component and equipment manufacturers to source lasers and other optical components for their pluggable and co-packaged systems. These trends point towards a market need for new independent providers of integrated tunable laser assemblies (ITLAs).

Single router faceplate packing

As the industry moves towards packing more and more transceivers on a single router faceplate, tunable lasers need to maintain performance and power while moving to smaller footprints and lower power consumption and cost. Due to the faceplate density requirements for data center applications, transceiver power consumption is arguably the most critical factor in this use case.

The main obstacle

In fact, power consumption is the main obstacle preventing pluggables from becoming a viable solution for a future upgrade to Terabit speeds. Since lasers are the second biggest power consumers in the transceiver module, laser manufacturers faced a paradoxical task. They must manufacture laser units that are small and energy-efficient enough to fit QSFP-DD and OSFP pluggable form factors while maintaining the laser performance.

Improved Photonic Integration Technology

Fortunately, these ambitious spec targets became possible thanks to improved photonic integration technology, leading to the new nano-ITLA module standards. Stunningly, tunable laser manufacturers achieved this size reduction without impacting laser purity and power.

High-Performance ITLA

The market needs more independent vendors to provide high-performance ITLA components that adapt to different datacom or telecom provider needs. Following these trends, at EFFECT Photonics, we are not only developing the capabilities to provide a complete coherent transceiver solution but also the nano-ITLA units needed by other vendors.